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Conscious Women Rock The Page

Posted Jul 15 2008

While I haven’t come across many books that deal directly with hip hop and education most of the ones I’m familiar with are pretty good. Most recently, I got my hands on Conscious Women Rock the Page, a collection of lesson plans and activities for grades 6-12 exploring themes of social justice, including racism, sexism, sexual orientation, and class.

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While I haven’t come across many books that deal directly with hip hop and education most of the ones I’m familiar with are pretty good. Most recently, I got my hands on Conscious Women Rock the Page, a collection of lesson plans and activities for grades 6-12 exploring themes of social justice, including racism, sexism, sexual orientation, and class. Four self-described feminists and activists took the lead on this project, but it includes contributions from educators around the United States. While the plans and activities here are based on three novels, That White Girl, The Sista Hood: On Tha Mic, and Picture Me Rollin’ the core elements and lessons are broad enough that anyone can pull elements from them. Beyond the authors of the novels, JLove, E-Fierce, and Black Artemis, the fourth author Marcella Runell Hall is the co-editor of The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook and is finishing up her PhD in Social Justice Education. I’ve worked with her in the past and this second book she’s overseen only increases my respect for her.

A strength of this book is Runell Hall’s intro “Note to Educators.” She acknowledges that hip hop and education is not a panacea for society’s ills and she encourages people to create their own lessons. While some hip-hop education is about hip hop itself, hip hop is often just the entry point for other issues. Her writing is peppered with “social justice language” including “allies” and “multiple identity” which do get defined. She gives some background on the emerging field of hip hop education and efforts to make curriculum or relevant to students, citing a figure that while 41% of students in the United States are children of color, 80% of the teachers are White. Of course people are more complex than their ethnicity, yet to ignore how it shapes our world view is oversimplifying the matter. In addition to her reflections and observations as an educator, Runnel Hall emphasizes the need for educators to be open to student input.

The book itself is divided up into three main sections, with the first being more of an introductory overview of the books and this approach to education while the second focuses more on specific activities on topics ranging from personal identity to the legal system. The lessons vary in style and include music, collages, and interactive activities. The final section includes a glossary and a resource list of books, websites, CDs, and organizations, including this site right here!

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